City Announces New Future for LOVE Park

City asking for $3 million in state money to redesign iconic Center City plaza

Philadelphia city officials on Monday announced plans to move forward with the redevelopment and re-imagination of iconic LOVE Park.

Under the shadow of Robert Indiana's acclaimed LOVE sculpture, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and City Council President Darrell Clarke singed an agreement to begin the process of redesigning the 49-year-old Center City park at 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

"The importance of this iconic park as the very heart and soul of the city cannot be overstated," Nutter said.

Nutter said officials envision making a number of changes to the park, officially known as John F. Kennedy Plaza, including adding green space, installing a new water feature and creating concessions for visitors to enjoy.

“The result will be a beautiful public space that will serve the citizens, tourists and residents and many other visitors for decades to come," he said.

Officials would also like to open up access to the park from all four streets its bounded by -- 15th Street, 16th Street, JFK Boulevard and Arch Street -- and keep the LOVE statue as the heart of the plaza.

"[The changes will] bring some level of vibrancy to this park that it needs and no longer will people have to talk about Bryant Park in New York and York Park in London. They’re going to talk about LOVE Park in the City of Philadelphia," Clarke said. He added that the a redesign is "long overdue."

In December, Clarke reveled plans to make over the park that included adding seven different retail spaces to the park, but his ideas were not necessarily in sync with The Nutter Administration. Clarke said he and his staff have since worked with the Mayor's Office to come up with a joint plan.

The city will apply for $3 million in redevelopment money from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and also hopes to generate cash for the project from the sale of the parking garage underneath the park.

Officials say they are also looking for corporations and philanthropic organizations to donate cash to the project.

Liberty Property Trust, one of the city's largest developers who built Comcast Center and are developing the forthcoming Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, is offering engineering support pro-bono during the design phase, Nutter said. (Comcast is the parent company of NBC10.)

Concessions that are opened in the park would also contribute to cash to keep the new space maintained, according to the mayor. Nutter said a study will be commissioned to determine ways to maximize revenue from for-profit additions to the park.

“We all agree that we want to optimize the opportunities for revenue generation while maintaining the integrity of the current open space," he said.

The mayor also emphasized that public input would play a large role in the design process.

No specific timeline was given for when the project may come to fruition, but officials say the first steps will be reaching out for public comment, applying for the state funding and start initial planning work.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

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